Uranium One Holding NV (a Rosatom company) and Canada-based Alpha Lithium Corporation announced that they had entered into an agreement to establish a joint venture to develop the Tolillar lithium deposit in Argentina.

The 27,500 hectares Tolillar deposit is located in the Argentine province of Salta within the 'lithium triangle' – a region is rich with hydromineral raw materials with a high concentration of lithium.

The agreement provides for the initial subscription for shares in Alpha One Lithium BV by Uranium One Holding NV for consideration of $30 million, which will result in Uranium One and Alpha Lithium Corporation holding 15% and 85%, respectively. The main asset of Alpha One Lithium BV comprises the 100% stake in the Argentine project company Alpha Argentina SA, which owns the exploration and production rights for the Tolillar lithium deposit.

Following completion of a bankable feasibility study on the project, Uranium One will have the option to invest an additional $185 million which would result in its shareholding in Alpha One Lithium BV increasing to 50%. Upon exercise of the option, Uranium One will be entitled to 100% off-take of the project’s production.

The transaction was agreed as part of Uranium One's business diversification strategy, which provides for the development of rare and rare-earth important metals associated with the supply of raw materials to high-tech industries. Rothschild & Co is acting as an exclusive financial advisor and Freshfields LLP as a legal advisor to Uranium One.

“Lithium is an essential material for the provision of resources for the green economy of the future,” said Andrey Shutov, President of the Uranium One Group. “The development of this line of business is strategically important for Rosatom. The project in Argentina will be implemented in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. We plan to develop the deposit, taking into account the interests of local communities, using innovative technologies that have minimal impact on the environment, supporting scientific and technical cooperation programmes. We are currently evaluating other rare and important metal deposits.”  He added: “This partnership agreement represents a scaled approach to expanding Uranium One’s lithium production, while allowing Uranium One and Alpha Lithium to collaborate on the development of Tolillar and implement efficient extraction technologies.”

Brad Nichol, Alpha’s President and CEO commented, “We are excited to enter into this partnership with Uranium One. Their proven ability to execute large-scale industrial projects and extensive global experience in operating mining and processing facilities will prove to be invaluable in ensuring the successful development and operation of the Tolillar project. Uranium One’s involvement in the lithium industry is a clear indication that lithium is critical to the future of the global economy and serves as an important vote of confidence in the work that Alpha Lithium has been undertaking in recent years.”  

Uranium One is an international group of companies, part of Tenex (a subsidiary of Rosatom), and one of the world’s largest uranium producers with a diverse portfolio of assets worldwide, including in Kazakhstan, Tanzania and Namibia.The company is developing new business areas, including biofuels and rare metals (lithium, etc).

Alpha Lithium is a team of industry professionals and experienced stakeholders focused on the development of the Tolillar and Hombre Muerto Salars. In Tolillar, Alpha Lithium has 100% ownership of what may be one of Argentina’s last undeveloped lithium salars, encompassing 27,500 hectares (67,954 acres), neighbouring multi-billion-dollar lithium players in the heart of the renowned “Lithium Triangle”. Other companies in the area exploring for lithium brines or currently in production include Orocobre Limited, Galaxy Lithium, Livent Corporation, POSCO, Eramine, Gangfeng, and Lithium Americas.

Alpha Lithium said the transaction is limited only to Tolillar and when closed, is expected to leave Alpha with approximately $45 million of cash, free to focus expansion and developmental efforts on the Company’s nearby assets in the Salar del Hombre Muerto, one of the world’s most significant sources of lithium.